Nichele Brown is convinced that police have the wrong man locked up for
Brown, 27, is the fiance of Roy "Woody" Couran, who had . She says footage of her and Couran making a Taco Bell run at the time of the killing should clear the 34-year-old father of charges. Couran pled not guilty on March 2.
Hill, a former star quarterback for , was fatally shot shortly before 1:50 a.m. Jan. 25 during a robbery and was unclear to police if he was being robbed or trying to get help.
Brown approached Patch with her story recently about the case because of several concerns that bothers her when it comes to the case. Couran's on his fourth public defender now handling the case. One defender withdrew because they represent a client in an ongoing felony case that would be implicated by Couran, according to court documents.
The declined comment for this story, and the state's attorney office as well as Couran's defense lawyer Mark Brewer has not returned a phone call requesting comment.
She's done her homework, finding a paper trail to support her fiance's case, including interviews completed by police and other court records.
"The only thing I can do is tell them where we were," Brown said.
The simplest explanation is that Couran wasn't at the scene. They were at the Taco Bell drive-thru at 855 South Tamiami Trail, Brown said.
The two were lying in bed watching TV at their then 13th Street home when a commercial came on and Couran was tempted by the Burrito Box.
"He said let's try it, and I didn't want to go, but we got up and ended up going anyway, got our food and came back home," Brown said.
A surveillance video from should show their white Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition in the footage, Brown said.
According to police interviews with the Taco Bell store manager Darnell Randolph, a video shows a white Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition that appears to be similar to Couran's, and Randolph could recognize it because he had owned the same model at one time, according to the transcript.
Brown hopes Couran's attoreny will soon have that surveillance tape to show a clear picture of either the license plate of the Explorer or the couple in the car.
Brown had also accurately described the speaking pattern and voice tone of their cashier, according to the transcript.
"Cullen fit the description by Brown and about his voice pattern," the police transcript read, dated Feb. 9.
She even remembers the order — a Burrito Box, a quesadilla with no sour cream, no tomato, no lettuce and extra meat and either a Mountain Dew or Sierra Mist. Couran had paid cash, and Brown hopes that a receipt can be recovered from the store's registers somehow to show that purchase.
They are also waiting to see surveillance footage from security cameras installed in Newtown, Brown said.
Charges Dropped During Detainment
Brown also questions how strong the case is given that during Hill's detainment, two charges were dropped 21 days after his arrest.
An attempted robbery with a firearm charge and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charge were both dropped on Feb. 28, according to court records. Couran still faces the second-degree murder charge and is being held without bond.
All that time, he spent time in jail, she said, and Brown would visit him or talk to him on the phone to help pass the time.
Police had sent out a press release less than 24 hours after meeting where he was being remembered as his family has had long ties to being city employees. For Brown, it seemed to quick and convenient after Commission Willie Charles Shaw announced "justice will prevail" and a suspect was arrested the day after the meeting with the family.
When it came to identifying Couran in a line-up, Brown believes it also gets murky.
The suspect was described as a tall, slender man with a thin/medium build in his 20s to 30s, and is 6 feet to 6 feet, 2 inches tall.
Couran is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, according to police records. To Brown, he's not slender. In pictures she shared with Patch, she points out his biceps and build.
"He doesn't even match the description, why would you even put him in the line-up?" Brown said.
One witnesses selected Couran out of the line-up and a second witness said they were 40 percent sure it was Couran they saw at the scene, according to the probable cause affidavit.
A second suspect was involved, according to the affidavit. That suspect is a black male about 5 feet 7 inches tall and had a stocky build and witnesses say the gun was handed over from the shooter to that suspect, according to the affidavit.
Brown said the only charge she knew in Couran's pass was for being a sex offender, stemming from him being 15 years old and his girlfriend at the time was 14 years old. She hopes to have that charge cleared off his record as part of the Romeo and Juliet law.
Before his arrest, Couran had worked doing lawn care and odd jobs as that charge had thwarted chances for him to gain regular employment.
Couran has faced other serious charges that have been dropped including using false information to obtain a driver's license, perjury, and failure to update a sex offender's address in 2008 and a dropped charged for aggravated battery while being detained or in jail on the previous charges. A battery charged was dropped in 2005.
His guilty charges include two for driving on a suspended license and failure to report or properly register to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for being a sex offender.
Feeling pressured about every action in police interviews, Brown wasn't sure what to make of anything and said she was presented with a recorded police phone call of Couran also revealed him speaking to another woman who wasn't Brown. Brown was disappointed, but despite the cheating, Brown knows Couran can be a lot of things, but a killer isn't one.
"He's a dog, a cheater, an asshole, but he's not a murderer," Brown said.